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30 Life Lessons From Chinese Billionaire Jack Ma

30 Life Lessons From Chinese Billionaire Jack Ma

Have you ever felt discouraged when you consider your professional progress or financial state? Chinese billionaire Jack Ma has a few tokens of advice for you.

Ma is a Chinese internet entrepreneur who launched his first big endeavor, and many since, in the face of adversity or criticism. He was named Financial Times’ “2013 Person of the Year,” and is widely held as a symbol of the Chinese entrepreneurial spirit. While some of his insight may constitute a new approach more focused on the bottom line than others, there is no denying that his perspective is one that has proven staggeringly successful.

Ready to incorporate Ma’s approach into your management of professional and financial life? Copy those that resonate most with you on a notecard and post them on your computer, in your wallet, or at another location where you will see them regularly. You’re about to go on a wildly successful ride with Jack Ma.

1. Look far and wide for opportunity.

Ma categorizes those who fail as often being myopic to opportunity. Look across the professional and financial landscape with a broad lens first, considering all possibilities. Then, bend down to dig under every rock and in every nook and cranny for potential opportunities.

2. Treat every opportunity as an open door.

No chance is too small, too menial, or beneath you. When something lies before you, seize it. Grasp it with all of your strength, work this opportunity with all of your heart. Bring everything that you are to bear on this task. Do not treat anything as small if you want large results.

3. Seek understanding.

Work to understand both your current position and the position to which you aspire. What, exactly, are you working for? Why? What will it take to get you to where you want to go?

4. Act quickly.

Sometimes, the race does go to the swift. What most folks miss, however, is that being “swift” means bouncing back from failure, not necessarily running most quickly at all times. Acting swiftly can also mean being the first one out of the blocks when the gun goes off. When an opportunity presents itself, act.

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5. See beyond your circumstances.

No matter what your current condition, how or where you grew up, or what education or training you feel you lack, you can be successful in your chosen endeavor. It is spirit, fortitude, and hardiness that matter more than where you start.

6. Channel your ambition.

It is your job as a visionary to become single-minded in your ambition. Focus on your goal, work toward it, and never let it go.

7. Be courageous.

When Ma launched Alibaba Group, a highly successful group of internet businesses, he did so in the face of cautionary feedback from potential backers. There is a time for boldness, and in pursuit of your chosen ambition is that time.

8. Take chances in your youth.

If you are not rich by the time you are 35, says Ma, then you have wasted the opportunities of youth. Capitalize upon these young years, with their energy and imagination, by giving in to your ambition and the pursuit of it.

9. Unify your team toward a common goal.

You will never succeed in unifying every member of your team behind a single person. Ma estimates that 30% of people will always disagree with you.  Unite them behind an idea, cause, or mission, however, and you can harness the power of the team.

10. Make yourself replaceable.

Part of unifying behind an idea or mission is reducing dependency upon any particular individual, including the founder or lead boss. Cultivate the ideas, skills, and approach that you value in individuals you trust. When you move on, their leadership will ensure the continued success of that mission or idea.

11. Hire those with better technical skills than you possess.

If the boss has better technical skills than the employees, then they hired the wrong people. Workers should always be technical experts. Hire them, empower them, and let them do their jobs. They’re better at it than you are.

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12. Lead with vision, tenacity, and grit.

There are skills that are vital to successful leadership of any company or endeavor — vision, tenacity, and grit. A leader must be a visionary, able to see opportunity where others do not and acknowledge challenges before they come. A leader must be tenacious, be able to “hang in there” when a less determined individual would have long since given up. A leader must have grit, that ability to buckle down and do what is required in order to get the job before them, done.

13. Persevere.

Hard times will come. Challenges may be everywhere even at launch. Keep that founding vision in mind, and cling to it in rough waters as a lighthouse and guide. Your actions will inspire others to do the same.

14. Attitude is more important than capability.

It is your attitude that determines your altitude. Whether in smooth times or rough, successful leaders remain calm, confident in their mission, and focused on their desired outcome.

15. Savvy decision-making is more important than capability.

The most successful leaders are not always the smartest or the most qualified on paper. They do, however, surround themselves with extremely capable experts, turn to them for input, and make clear decisions. It is the decisions you make that will advance you and your endeavor forward one step at a time, not how qualified you are to move from square to square.

16. Money and political power cannot exist together.

Money and political power are mutually exclusive. One is the powder keg, the other, the match. Where both exist, an explosion will occur. If you are interested in both, pursue them consecutively, not concurrently.

17. Resilience is only understood after you have gone through hardship.

An intellectual understanding of resilience means nothing.  The capacity to be resilient means nothing.  It is only after having gone through hardships and having been tested, that an individual can be deemed “resilient.”

18. Your job is to be more diligent, hardworking, and ambitious than others.

There is a simple formula for success, every time. Be diligent. Work hard. Never lose sight of your ambition. Whatever form your endeavor takes, these principles hold true.

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19. Compete with grace.

If you treat your competitors as enemies, you will be seen as an enemy yourself. You will soon be surrounded. Instead, enter professional competition with grace, honoring your competitor and remembering that next time, the tide may turn another way.

20. Take all competitors seriously.

No competitor is a giant unless you make them one in your perspective. Treat all competitors with respect; treat your own business with respect. All have an equal chance of success when the competition begins. The one you overlook may be the one that beats you.

21. Behold yourself a giant.

Every large business started somewhere. Your business started somewhere. All deserve a seat at the table. Behold yourself equal to those you are competing with, and conduct yourself accordingly.

22. Winners do not whine.

While occasional poor spirits are to be expected, with the accompanying utterances of annoyance or dejection, regular whining is a sure sign of failure. All endeavors will bring hardships and challenges. How you deal with them will indicate the success of your business. Winners do not whine.

23. Customers are first; employees, second; shareholders, third.

As a leader, you only have a certain amount of time and energy. Give yours to those who enable your business, first — your customers. Those who make your business run come second — your employees. The shareholders are given attention and resources only after the first two have been satisfied. Many business owners spend all day, every day, catering to the shareholders. This resource allocation is not sustainable.

24. Forget about the money.

You did not launch your business or project solely for the money. You went down this path to build a particular lifestyle, or to meet a need of your soul and mind. If you focus on the money, you will make different decisions than if you focus on the journey. Walk the path you started down diligently, with ambition; the money will come.

25. Find the right people, not necessarily the best or most skilled people.

The most skilled people on paper are not necessarily the ones who fit best into your culture, or work best with you. The most efficient people on paper may not be those you trust most. Sparkling resumes do not mean that an individual can grow and evolve with your company. Find the right people, now. They are the best people. Their skills can be developed, as will yours.

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26. “Free” is a very expensive word.

When you give something away for “free,” you give away profits, as well as resources of manpower spent during development, implementation, and follow-up, and possibly intellectual property in the form of a great idea. Think carefully before you run such a promotion. Nothing is truly free.

27. A smart man uses his brain to “speak”…

The words that come from another’s mouth are not meaningful. Engage your mind. Utilize your intellect. Make decisions from an informed, grounded perspective.

28. … a wise man uses his heart.

Likewise, trust your intuition and your knowing. Making decisions from a place of faith can serve you exceptionally well, particularly with regard to personnel and when identifying strategic objectives.

29. We are born to enjoy life, not to spend it working.

The point of life is not to simply work, work, work, grinding away our bodies and our minds until we die. The focus should be on enjoyment, not only of your work but by creating time to play, relax, and enjoy those around you. If you work your life away, you will regret it — this is guaranteed.

30. Giving up is the greatest failure.

You will never know what you can achieve and accomplish, unless you try it. You will never know if your idea will “work” or if the business will produce, unless you stick with it. Adapt your ideas, change your strategies if you must, but never give up.

Craving more guidance? Check out these 5 Things The Richest Man in Asia Wants Young Entrepreneurs to Know.

Featured photo credit: epSos.de via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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